Four Essentials for Praying More Effectively
Wouldn’t it be silly if I got up a little early tomorrow, put on my workout clothes, laced up my Nikes, stretched out for a few minutes and then…took a shower? Why would I go to all the trouble to prepare for it, get warmed up for it, but then not do it?
I’m afraid sometimes the same thing happens in my prayer life. I get through some initial exchanges with God, but then because of time pressures or some distraction, I prematurely end the conversation.
The problem with this is that I am stopping short, walking away before the really effective part of prayer begins.
“…the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16 (NLT)
Notice the type of prayer that produces wonderful results is “earnest” prayer. What is earnest prayer? It is the kind of prayer that goes beyond the normal thresholds, or the standard “Dear God, please help me today. Thanks for everything. Amen.” Earnest prayer requires a little more investment on our parts. It takes four things in particular:
- It takes FAITH, which is confidence that God exists, that He cares, and that He can handle what you present to Him like no one else can (Hebrews 11:6).
- It takes PRIVACY. Just you and God in your favorite spot. This is the idea behind the “secret place” Jesus talked about in Matthew 6:6.
- It takes HONESTY. If you are having a hard time getting focused as you begin to pray, be honest enough to tell Him so. If your conscience is bothered about something, don’t hesitate to go there with Him. It’s ok, forgiveness is available (I John 1:9). If your mind is bouncing to things coming up on your schedule, tell Him about that, too. The more conversational your prayer is, the more likely you will get past the warm-up stage and into the type of prayer that moves the needle.
- It takes TIME. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a 60 second prayer. Praying “on the fly” is just part of life. But that’s probably not where we should leave it. Rather than just going through the drive-thru with God everyday, maybe it’s time we park and go inside.
As we look around and see the extreme needs in our communities and in our world, sometimes it leaves us wondering how we could possibly make a difference. There’s no better place to begin than with a heart-felt conversation with God.
I think I’ll start now.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.